October 7, 2022 by Carol Britton Meyer
President Joe Biden was the first president to issue a proclamation of Indigenous Peoples’ Day in 2021, and Hingham followed suit Thursday night by joining five other towns in Massachusetts that have already established this holiday.
The Select Board proclaimed October 10, 2022, Indigenous Peoples’ Day at their meeting Thursday night at the request of Hingham's Human Rights Commission. The day will be observed along with Columbus Day.
Commission member John Bradley explained that naming Oct. 10 as such is part of a "growing trend."
The Human Rights Commission, a Hingham Unity Council-proposed initiative established earlier this year by the Select Board, represents Hingham's commitment to supporting the ability of all individuals within the town of Hingham "to enjoy the free and equal exercise of their rights and privileges as secured by the Constitution and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and of the United States" and to promote diversity, equity and inclusion.
"Since time immemorial, American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians have built vibrant and diverse cultures — safeguarding land, language, spirit, knowledge, and tradition across the generations," according to the proclamation -- which Select Board Chair William Ramsey and fellow members Liz Klein and Joseph Fisher support.
On Indigenous Peoples’ Day, "the town celebrates the invaluable contributions and resilience of Indigenous peoples, recognizes their inherent sovereignty, and commits to honoring the Federal Government’s trust and treaty obligations to Tribal Nations."
The premise is that "our country was conceived on a promise of equality and opportunity for all people -- a promise that, despite the extraordinary progress we have made through the years, we have never fully lived up to," the proclamation states. "That is especially true when it comes to upholding the rights and dignity of the Indigenous people who were here long before colonization of the Americas began. For generations, Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native cultures. Today, we recognize Indigenous peoples’ resilience and strength as well as the immeasurable positive impact that they have made on every aspect of American society."
The proclamation recognizes that the contributions made by Indigenous peoples throughout history -- "in public service, entrepreneurship, scholarship, the arts, and countless other fields — are integral to our Nation, our culture, and our society."
Indigenous peoples have served, and continue to serve, in the United States Armed Forces with distinction and honor — at one of the highest rates of any group —"defending our security every day. Today, we acknowledge the significant sacrifices made by Native peoples to this country — and recognize their many ongoing contributions to our Nation."
The Select Board encourages Hingham residents to celebrate and recognize the many Indigenous communities and cultures "that make up our great country" and calls upon the people of Hingham to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.